Afghanistan's Defense Ministry says 26 soldiers were killed and 13 wounded in a Taliban attack on a military base in the southern province of Kandahar, although other government officials said the death toll was at least 30.
Defense Ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri said 80 Taliban militants were also killed or wounded in the attack on the Karzyalay military base in Kandahar’s Khakrez district early on July 26.
The attack came amid a deadly surge of violence in Afghanistan, where government forces are struggling to fend off a resurgent Taliban that controls more territory than at any time since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.
Government sources who spoke on condition of anonymity told RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan that at least 30 soldiers were killed in the attack.
Sediq Esa, a spokesman for the 205th Corps in Kandahar, also said at least 30 Afghan military personnel were killed.
Esa said the militants seized the base and captured weapons and vehicles.
In a statement, the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying that it had killed 74 soldiers and captured six others.
The Defense Ministry said government forces, backed by the air force, recaptured the base after several hours.
Kandahar has been the scene of constant militant attacks since 2001. The province is the spiritual heartland of the Taliban and located on the porous border with Pakistan, where the militant group’s leadership is believed to be based.
Taliban militants have ramped up their attacks on military bases across the country, challenging the thinly stretched security forces.
The U.S. Special Inspector-General for Reconstruction (SIGAR) has called the casualty rate among Afghan forces "shockingly high." Last year, more than 6,800 were killed and another 12,000 wounded, according to a SIGAR report this year.
In April, at least 140 soldiers were killed on a base outside the northern city of Mazar-e Sharif, one of the deadliest-ever Taliban attacks on a military installation.
In March, gunmen disguised as doctors stormed the Sardar Daud Khan hospital -- the country's largest military hospital -- in Kabul, killing 50 people.
The Taliban is threatening to overrun districts in Baghlan, Badakhshan, Kunduz, Helmand, Farah, and Uruzgan provinces, according to officials.
The militants captured three districts in the past seek, although the ministry said Kohistan district in the northwestern province of Faryab was recaptured late on July 25.
On July 24, a Taliban suicide car bombing killed at least 26 people and wounded 41 others in the capital, Kabul, many of them employees of the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum.
The Taliban was driven from power in Afghanistan after the U.S.-led invasion that followed the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.